Emily Dickinson’s "If You Were Coming in the Fall": Themes of Love and Longing

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Analyzing the Work of Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson’s “If you were coming in the fall” is a poem with a theme about love and longing. The speaker of the poem is a woman looking for ways to pass the time until she can be with the one she loves again. Dickinson writes, “If you were coming in the fall, I’d brush the summer by With half a smile and half a spurn, As housewives do a fly,” which means that the speaker would handle a short absence from her lover in the same manner that a housewife would encounter an insect: it would be slightly annoying but easily tolerated and accepted. tone of this poem has yearning but is also light. Although the reality of the speaker’s situation is not a happy one, Dickinson words the poem so that it is not completely negative or depressing.

The speaker in Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers” uses a metaphor to make a very fitting comparison between a song bird and the feelings of hope. Dickinson personifies hope when she writes, “Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul,” and she uses direct imagery to show the reader the similarities between hope encompassed inside of a person’s soul, and a bird “perched” inside of a cage. She continues the poem with, “And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all,” which describes both the bird and the feeling. Songbirds sing a wordless melody that seems to never end, and hope “sings the tune without the words” in the sense that it makes a person feel positive even though they may not know what to expect in the future. When Dickinson writes, “And sweetest in the gale is heard,” it can be inferred from her diction choice of “gale” meaning “a very strong wind” or, “noisy outburst,” that she means to say that hope is most appreciated or welcome when the turn of events gets really bad. She continues, “And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.” This means that anyone or anything capable of...
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